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February, 2011

  1. Off to Belleville this weekend…

    February 26, 2011 by admin

    Sara and I are off to Belleville, Ontario this weekend to visit with family and celebrate a couple of birthdays all at once.  I’ve been taking the train to and from  Belleville for years (since Sara and I were teenagers and dating) and it’s one of the prettiest small cities I know of.  I plan to do a little thrift and vintage shopping so there’ll be more to come.   And there are tons of interesting old houses to look at (yes!). 

     Have a great weekend!

    Glanmore, Belleville Ontario


  2. New At Ikea

    February 25, 2011 by admin

    Want some fresh hits of style that won’t break the bank? Check out some of the newest products from Ikea.

    Loving this Gronska Blom fabric – I can think of lots of places for this charming, sketch-like print…

    These Jubla candles are on my to-buy list.  I’ve been into coloured tapered candles for a while now and these are a very affordable option.  Great in tarnished brass candle sticks…

    Open shelves are hot hot hot and these Norrtorp shelves are perfect!  Love the simple, Shaker-like carpentry.

    This Varlikt vase looks much more expensive than it is.  Would look fantastic with a bunch of anemonies or ranunculus leaning out of it.

    These angular modern floor lamps are making a big splash this year and it’s so exciting to see this affordable Ikea version.  Part of their successful Stockholm line, this floor lamp lets you get in on the trend without investing too much.


  3. DIY: Framed Ferns

    February 24, 2011 by admin

    Way back in the summer I made some cheap ‘n easy artwork for our new house.  It features some ferns from our very own backyard.

    It started with some super cheap wooden picture frames from Zellers.  These were $2.50 a piece!  And a can of gray spray paint…

    Remove the glass from the frames and spray paint the frames.  Remember to use light even coats to build up the colour instead of one heavy, gloppy coat.  It dries really fast, so don’t worry about multiple coats taking too much time.

    Next I picked up an old book from Good Will – one that I wasn’t planning to read – ever!


    Librarians look away…next you cut a few pages out of the book.

    Overlap a few book pages to cover the back board of the picture frame and use some tape on the very edges to hold it in place.

    Now select some choice ferns from the garden – or a walk in woods?

    Place a fern on top of the page-covered back board and assemble the frame with the glass.  Et Voila!

    It’s sort of a take on the classic botanical print and has a vintage, old typeface element with some patina.  And talk about cheap!  We’ve got these leaned up, three in a row along the backsplash in our kitchen where they add a nice decorative layer.

    Why not give them a try?


  4. Wood Can Be Good!

    February 23, 2011 by admin

    On the heels of my dining room post, I wanted to share some inspiration shots where wood trim wasn’t entirely coated in white paint.  Don’t get me wrong, I almost always prefer painted trim, but I wondered if there were examples where wood was good

    Here’s some of what I found…

    marthastewart.com

    marthastewart.com

    marthastewart.com

    marthastewart.com

    The images above are from Skylands, Martha Stewart’s house on Mount Desert Island in Maine.  It used to be the Ford estate and has been left much in its original state.  The warm, reddish wood is classic Maine to me, and has a certain soul that would be a shame to cover up, don’t you think?  See how these rooms still look lovely and livable by adding in some other colours and maintaining the wood?

    marthastewart.com

    marthastewart.com

    marthastewart.com

    These last three images are from Lily Pond Lane, Martha’s house in East Hampton. It too is an historic charmer and comes with some old wood.  The kitchen uses warm wood again, mixed with classic Martha turquoise-greens.  I love this combo.  And the last shot is a good illustration of painting some of the wood and leaving some natural.  You get the best of both worlds and somehow each application looks all the better for it.

    I dunno, it’s definitely a look, but one I’m drawn to.


  5. Our House: The Dining Room!

    February 22, 2011 by admin

    It’s been a little while since the last sneak peek of our place.  Today, let’s explore the dining room!

    This view is from the living room looking through the dining room and into the family room beyond.  It’s nice to be able to see through from one room to another because this is an old house with many separated rooms, but it still feels open and connected.

    Well there’s certainly a lot of wood to work with!  The floors are that medium honey tone that has seems to have gone out of fashion (everyone wants ebony or bleached) but with a hint of red, so they’re not exactly blonde.  The wooden wainscotting is in pristine condition, I’m telling you, with not a spot of paint and as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

    You may disagree with me, but I’m actually into that chandelier.  It’s kind of that colonial, Williamsburg shape in old brass and since I’m so inspired by the Northeastern States like Maine, I feel like it’s worth saving.  It could do with some shades though.  But what kind?

    And there’s a swingy door!!!  I’m going to sound like a twelve-year-old, but that swinging door into the dining room may have been one of the key selling features for me!  It’s just like the ones on classic sitcoms like Full House and Who’s The Boss and I LOVE it.  It adds to the formality of the old house (we wouldn’t want to be able to see the mess in the kitchen from our dinner party, would we?) and leads to a little hallway that divides the front entrance from the kitchen and leads to a side door.  Cool eh?  I picture bursting through this door with many a birthday cake singing, “Happy Birthday to yoooooou!”

    Another view – sorry, kind of darkish, into the family room.  You can see the walls are old, textured plaster.  Not my favourite, but I guess they were going for that ye olde English thing which I can appreciate.  The walls curve up into the ceiling so you can’t really paint the walls one colour and the ceiling another.  One colour it is.

    And finally, Sara and I found these fantastic french doors covered in dirt and grime in the basement.  They came from the entrance between the dining and living room and had been down there for 30 or more years!  They were in perfect shape except for the dirt and we decided to bring them home to their rightful place.

    The wood paneling in this room really is handsome and rich, and I was not sure if I wanted to paint it or not.  Everyone at the magazine said I should, but I wasn’t sold on the idea.  There was part of me that feared that if we did paint it all white, the house would look too new or lose some of it’s soul or something.  I was on the hunt for inspirational images of houses that kept some of the wood instead of painting it all out.

    What would you have done?

    Well there you have it – the dining room!  A perfect place to hold family dinners, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthdays, but also a perfect place to spread out the newspaper with a bowl of cereal.  The trick would be freshening this room up and maintaining  the warmth at the same time.  I didn’t want it to feel like a stuffy old library or manor.  Can’t wait to show what’s been done since then…


  6. Bright Bazaar Shout Out

    February 21, 2011 by admin

    A while back, I had a veeeery nice post written about me and my work over at Bright Bazaar. This is a blog after my own heart because it’s all about colour and fun and wit. It’s another UK blog, so I guess I’m in an English state of mind…

    Check it out here!

    Thanks for the post Will!


  7. Ben Pentreath Is The Luckiest Guy On Earth

    February 21, 2011 by admin

    Well it’s Family Day in Ontario, and Sara and I are off from work. We’re still in our pajamas having eaten a late breakfast of banana pancakes (thanks for the idea Morgan) and watched the rest of a movie we started last night. It looks like its going to be a nap-heavy, read-a-novel-on-the-sofa, stay inside and stay warm kind of day.

    It snowed again last night. And for some reason I don’t mind. Winter can be beautiful like this:

    Way across the pond, in what seems like another world, is the charming parsonage of Ben Pentreath. Ben has a shop in London, but also stays here in the countryside where he gardens and blogs and makes me extremely jealous. Well not jealous, inspired really.

    But since I don’t want to focus on snow and winter much more this year, I’ll add these shots from Ben’s Parsonage in the fall. Now THIS is inspiring…

    Is this not the most beautiful place you’ve seen in recent memory?!

    So tranquil and earthy and authentic. The colour of the stone/stucco on the house mixed with the pale blue/green and white woodwork is perfect and the fresh green grass and rich brown earth in the garden beds is amazing. And he has actual glass cloches in the garden and a wattle fence! This is exactly what I picture as the quintessential English countryside scene and it’s just what I need with the snow continuing to pile up outside.

    You have to check out Ben Pentreath’s shop and blog here.

    Happy Family Day to all my fellow Ontarians!


  8. Classic Martha: Birthday Party in the Garden

    February 19, 2011 by admin

    No matter how old you get, you should always find some way to celebrate your birthday.

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thuss, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    How great does this party spread look?  It’s at a multi-generational birthday party for a child and his grandmother, hosted by MSL Weddings editor, Darcy Miller.  The buttercrunch chocolate-truffle layer cake (mouth watering as I type) is displayed on an outdoor table and tented with gossamer netting.  This is a great idea because it keeps bugs away and looks fantastic!  You could do this with a mosquito net from Ikea.  And I love the little flags made from wired ribbons and bamboo skewers.

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thuss, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    I am crazy for the simple beauty of this shot.  Seriously, it makes my heart sing.  The humble painted kitchen chairs, hauled outdoors and set up neatly under a large tree, the graceful table cloth and those simple but lush flower bunches in short glasses…ahhhh

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thuss, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thuss, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thus, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    These are fantastic looking gifts!  The polka dot ribbon is so preppy and cute and I love the combination of Jadite green dishes with accents the colour of pink-lemonade.

    Created by Susan Sugarman & Rebecca Thus, Photography by James Merrell, MSL Sept 1997

    Bubbles, balloons, and kids – what else does a party need?

    Martha Stewart Living, September 1997, Photography by James Merrell

    Martha with an armload of presents – what a great, classic cover.  Love this.


  9. Little Green Notebook Shout Out!

    February 19, 2011 by admin

    This week one of the rooms I’ve decorated was featured on the adorable and popular blog, Little Green Notebook (home of Pearl Street Interiors) by Jenny Komenda.  Check it out here!

    Thank so much Jenny!

    And thanks to Eleanor for letting me know!!


  10. Traditional Kevin Sharkey Room

    February 18, 2011 by admin

    Martha Stewart Living Magazine has recently unveiled its ultra-fancy ipad application. Now you can read each issue of Living with special bonus features, including a room decorated by Martha Stewart veteran Kevin Sharkey. The approach for this room was a traditional, yet fresh take on a real decorator’s room. Drawing on his experience at Parish-Hadley in the 1980′s Sharkey dusted off some of the decorative hallmarks of that era including layered patterns, folding screens, wicker indoors and decorative valances.

    And here are the results – what do you think?

    marthastewart.com

    Watch a video about Kevin’s decorating process here.